Sustainability is luxury’s duty, says Kering

Laurent Claquin, Kering
Laurent Claquin, Kering

“Everyone is convinced that sustainability is a necessity and not an option, but for the luxury industry it’s actually a duty,” said Laurent Claquin, head of Kering Americas.

Speaking at the Remode conference in Los Angeles last week, he said that sustainability is steadily becoming a mark of quality, thus something every brand needs to do anyway, but there still remains a gap in luxury moving in this direction.

“The luxury sector has an obligation to lead the way, because in many ways the rest of the industry is looking to them,” added Eva Kruse, president and CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda, which is focused on sustainability. “We think the luxury sector is where sustainability would thrive the most just because of the sheer margins that it can sell its items for in terms of the price. But still, we haven’t seen a lot of companies really spearheading it.”

Kering is arguably out front having made a series of commitments to a more sustainable future, including targets for 2025 that are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the launch of an open source Environmental Profit & Loss calculator, which enables businesses to attach a momentary value to their planetary impact.

The latter helps build the business case for sustainability, which Claquin referred to as an opportunity based around doing things responsibly. “When you do it in a sustainable way, you not only decrease negative impact, but you can create positive impact,” he explained.

Using the calculator has enabled Kering to see that 80% of its impact is actually outside its operation, due to being based largely on the extraction and process of raw materials. Creating a more sustainable supply chain therefore, has meant going to the source to work directly with suppliers and partners. Innovation is a big part of making this happen, Claquin explained.

“We’re not perfect, it’s step by step and we’re at the beginning of a long journey,” he added.

Kering recently introduced an organic cotton that is 100% scientifically traceable, thanks to a new supply chain transparency innovation.

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